Could Your Innovative Business Idea Qualify For A UK Innovator Visa?


If an entrepreneur wants to bring their business to the UK, it has to be innovative. What does this actually mean? To get an Innovator Visa, this is a question you will need to be able to answer.

If you think your business idea is something the UK needs, this article will explore how to check if your business meets the criteria needed to apply. As well as looking at how to be innovative, you will learn what other conditions you and your business need to meet.

The Innovator Visa

The Innovator Visa is a 3 year visa scheme allowing experienced entrepreneurs to bring their businesses to the UK. It looks for funded businesses that meet the eligibility criteria listed later. One of the most important of this criteria is that the business is innovative.

If an application is successful, an applicant can live in the UK and work on starting and growing their business. The applicant’s dependants can also have their own visas supported by an Innovator Visa.

At the end of the 3 years, the visa holder can renew their visa. They can also apply to settle in the UK permanently if their business has brought enough value during its time under the Innovator Visa.

What Is Innovative?

An innovative business brings something entirely new to the UK. When applying to get an Innovator Visa, you will need to be able to show that no other business in the UK is already doing what your business idea would be.

This sometimes means your business would fill a gap in the market. It can also mean you approach a problem in a way that’s different enough to what exists that it still brings value to the market. 

How To Be Innovative

When starting a business, you will research the market you want to go into to get an impression of the competition. Checking that you’re innovative is no different. You need to show that you have thoroughly researched your possible competition and found no identical businesses.

When showing that your business is innovative, you need to know what it is that makes you special. If you’re bringing a new approach, this is what makes you unique and valuable. 

Writing a great value proposition for your business is a useful tool for communicating what makes your business unique. If you can refine it down to a single sentence, it will be much easier to convince an endorsing body that you are eligible for an Innovator Visa.



What Else Is Needed?

The Home Office requires 3 things from business it will grant an Innovator Visa to.

  • Innovative
  • Viable
  • Scalable

Viable businesses are ones that have the ability to thrive and survive in the UK. You will need to show that you and your business have what it takes to succeed.

For a business to be scalable, it needs to be able to grow. The Home Office wants businesses that will create jobs for local workers. Your business will need to show how it will expand and create employment

To get an Innovator Visa, your business will also need funding. Proof of at least £50000 in funding will be needed for your business to be eligible. If more than one founder is applying with the same business, they will each need their own £50000 of funding. 

If you don’t have access to this level of funding, you may find that the UK Startup Visa is a better fit for you. It carries many of the same conditions and benefits, but doesn’t need funding and is more limited at the end of the visa period. 

There are also conditions that you have to meet separately from those of the business. Examples include personal finances, levels of English, and health status. More details of what is required can be found here.

How To Apply

If you want to apply for an Innovator Visa, you will first need to find an endorsing body. Endorsing bodies are licensed UK businesses that will check business on behalf of the Home Office. 

They will be the one to make sure your business has what it needs and that you have all your documents in order. They are all made up of successful business leaders so will be able to understand your application pitch. 

Once you and your business have been given a letter of endorsement, you’ll be able to apply online to get the visa itself. With the support of a good endorsing body, your application should be successful. However, the Home Office makes the final decision. 

Not every endorsing body offers the same service. Some will give you the bare minimum, while others provide additional support to help your business flourish in the UK. 

Boardroom Advisors is one such endorsing body. They specialise in providing Board level support to businesses in the UK, and offer the same level of advice to those bringing their businesses from overseas.